With towering fir forests, sunlight oak groves, wildflower-strewn meadows, and steep canyons, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is an ecological wonder, with biodiversity unmatched in the Cascade Range. The rich enclave of natural resources is a biological crossroads — the interface of the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou ecoregion, in an area of unique geology, biology, climate and topography. The Monument is home to a spectacular variety of rare and beautiful species of plants and animals, whose survival in this region depends on its continued ecological integrity.” – Presidential Proclamation, June … Read the rest

Berryessa Snow Mountain

Once covered by ocean waters, it is a landscape shaped by geologic forces of staggering power overlain with bountiful but fragile biodiversity. Anchored in the north by Snow Mountain’s remote forests and in the south by scenic Berryessa Mountain, this area stretches through unbroken wildlands and important wildlife corridors, a mosaic of native grasslands, picturesque oak woodlands, rare wetlands, and wild chaparral.
– Presidential Proclamation, July 10, 2015

The 330-thousand acre Berryessa Snow Monument has been called “California’s best kept secret.” It boasts unique and diverse ecosystems that … Read the rest

Giant Sequoia

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” 
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Giant Sequoia protects 348,000-acres of … Read the rest

Carrizo Plain

Full of natural splendor and rich in human history, the majestic grasslands and stark ridges in the Carrizo Plain National Monument contain exceptional objects of scientific and historic interest.  Since the mid-1800s, large portions of the grasslands that once spanned the entire four hundred mile expanse of California’s nearby San Joaquin Valley and other valleys in the vicinity have been eliminated by extensive land conversion to agricultural, industrial, and urban land uses.  The Carrizo Plain National Monument, which is dramatically bisected by the San Andreas Fault zone, is Read the rest

San Gabriel Mountains

Known as the crown to the Valley of Angels, the peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains frame the Los Angeles skyline. Over 15 million people live within 90 minutes of this island of green, which provides 70 percent of the open space for Angelenos and 30 percent of their drinking water. Millions recreate and rejuvenate in the San Gabriels each year, seeking out their cool streams and canyons during the hot summer months, their snowcapped mountains in the winter, and their trail system and historic sites throughout the Read the rest

Sand to Snow

I only went out for a walk
And finally concluded to stay out till sundown
For going out I found
Was really going in

-John Muir

The Sand to Snow Monument was designated in February 2016 as part of a trio of Monuments protecting the California Mojave Desert: Mojave Trails, Castle Mountain, and Sand to Snow. Monument designation for Sand to Snow protected a critical corridor connecting San Gorgonio Wilderness and Mojave Desert. The huge range of elevations, spanning desert floor to 11,000-foot summit of San Gorgonio Mountain … Read the rest

Mojave Trails

The Mojave Trails area of southern California is a stunning mosaic of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows, and spectacular sand dunes.  It is a landscape defined by scarcity and shaped by travel .  – Presidential Proclamation (February 12, 2016)


From one desert to the next. After leaving the Sonoran Desert we beelined for the Mojave Desert. The Mojave Desert is an arid 25,000 square-mile area that is located in the transition between the hot Sonoran Desert and the Great Basin landscape. The Mojave Trails National Monument … Read the rest

Ironwood Forest

Strange and inscrutable
The desert lies
Austere its every mood;
Yet peace and beauty
Here abound
In solemn quietude.
-F.J. Worrall, Desert, March 1973

The monument presents a quintessential view of the Sonoran Desert with ancient legume and cactus forests. The geologic and topographic variability of the monument contributes to the area’s high biological diversity. Ironwoods, which can live in excess of 800 years, generate a chain of influences on associated understory plants, affecting their dispersal, germination, establishment, and rates of growth. – Presidential Proclamation (June 9, 2000).Read the rest

Sonoran Desert National Monument


The Sonoran Desert National Monument is a magnificent example of untrammeled Sonoran desert landscape. The area encompasses a functioning desert ecosystem with an extraordinary array of biological, scientific, and historic resources. The most biologically diverse of the North American deserts, the monument consists of distinct mountain ranges separated by wide valleys, and includes large saguaro cactus forest communities that provide excellent habitat for a wide range of wildlife species.  – Presidential Proclamation (January 17, 2001)

The Sonoran Desert National Monument protects 487,000 acres of the unique Sonoran … Read the rest

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

The Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument is comprised of four different areas that surround Las Cruces, NM. There’s the iconic Organ Mountains to the east, the Desert Peaks to the northwest, the Doña Ana Mountains to the north and the Potrillo Mountains to the southwest. Each of the four areas is a little different, preserving different aspects of the what makes OMDP so special: winding canyons, springs, rock cliffs and outcroppings, undisturbed cinder cones, archeological sites, extinct volcanoes, desert grasslands, lava fields and more.

Our first morning … Read the rest